Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ROSAMUND GRIEF, by GORDON BOTTOMLEY



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ROSAMUND GRIEF, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I fasted, prayed and scourged myself
Last Line: An angel in god's sight.
Subject(s): Grief; Sorrow; Sadness


I FASTED, prayed and scourged myself,
Each ineffectually,
For still I heard God say "Take up
Thy cross and follow me";
I longed to feel some part of God,
So sought His bloody tree.

I told the priest, who saw me stand
For eagerness unshod
And half unrobed: he said "You sin
And earn a fiery rod,
Sending your dark delirious soul
A-whoring after God."

I cut strong shoots and firmly twined
A crown of passionate thorn;
I set it on and crushed it down
Until my brows were torn:
"Lo, now" I said, "I am Queen of Heaven,
This searching crown being worn."

I put nails through my shrinking hands,
Nails through my twitching feet;
The rapturous pain my body rent
In pangs unearthly sweet;
I filled that irised, throbbing haze
Where soul and body meet.

I felt as Virgin Mary felt
When God grew big in her,
Heavy with birth of holiness
That gave mad throes to bear;
But higher than she, for God at last
Disowned her nursing care.

Pain is the last and deepest pleasure
That God grants to His own;
It probes hid chasms of fierce delight
To gentle ways unknown;
'Tis man's sole sense of eager passion
Like God's intense to the bone.

I pierced my side -- as His was pierced --
In agonies devout,
And blood and water, mixing there,
Dripped reverently out;
A sign that He had blessed my act
How can you dare to doubt?

I felt a halo round my head
Burn purple on my brain,
And flash across my reeling eyes
In shuddering gusts of pain;
Then swooned, and leaped to stabbing life,
And straightway swooned again.

I saw the Virgin weep in night;
Her humble face of faith
Was an epiphany of pain:
She is the type of death,
Having been doomed to make her God
Subject to change and death.

She said "My Son in many ears
My motherhood denied;
To you he sends this spousal kiss,
To you blood-sanctified.
'Tis ever thus; all men forsake
The mother for the bride."

When I awoke, white death-clouts stiffened
About my limbs and face,
And I was coffined narrowly,
Washed for the burial place.
Know you how long I was dead to earth?
Listen: Three nights and days.

So much of death God granted me --
His own dear share, no less --
That I might be a sinless saint
Cleansed from the world's caress:
Was this not His convincing love
Of my deep holiness?

I feel my body's aureole,
A pulsing breathing light --
The cool transfiguring radiance
Of angels benedight;
Proving that though on earth I am
An angel in God's sight.





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